Manchester United FC

Manchester United’s best ever January transfer window signings - ranked

Jan 6, 2021, 6:15 PM GMT
Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes signed for Manchester United in January 2020 | Pool/Getty Images

The January transfer window is upon us once again, and that means clubs are now looking to do business to strengthen their squad.

Despite clubs often saying business is hard to get done mid-season, some of the Premier League's best players ever have joined their clubs in the winter window. Manchester United have done business in the past, signing a total of 13 first-team players during January windows.

But which of those was the best? 90min have ranked them.

13. Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez
Arguably Manchester United's worst signing ever | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

One of the more recent January arrivals at Old Trafford was Chilean superstar Alexis Sanchez.

After a protracted move from rivals Arsenal, Sanchez arrived in a swap deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan with a mind-blowing £450k per-week wage packet. Despite coming into a strong team and being the focal point, Sanchez scored just five goals in 45 games for Manchester United before leaving on a free transfer to Inter.

12. Victor Valdes

Victor Valdes
Valdes had next to no impact at Old Trafford | Clive Mason/Getty Images

The legendary Barcelona keeper signed as a free agent during Louis van Gaal's tenure at the club. He was only signed as back-up to David De Gea and made just two appearances for the club, before being placed on the transfer list after refusing to play in a reserve game.

He left on loan the following January before being released at the end of his contract. You'd be forgiven for forgetting this deal ever even happened.

11. Zoran Tosic

Manchester United's Serbian forward Zora
Zoran Tosic joined as a hot young prospect but it never worked out | ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

Tosic joined United as a 22-year-old prospect from FK Partizan, but he never managed to really break into the first team.

He made just five appearances under Sir Alex Ferguson, but was a regular for the reserve team before joining FC Koln on loan. He later forged an excellent career for himself at CSKA Moscow and made 76 appearances for the Serbia national team too.

10. Anders Lindegaard

Anders Lindegaard
Lindegaard was largely back up during his time at Old Trafford | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Another goalkeeper who joined the club to be back up, Lindegaard actually had a short spell as first-choice goalkeeper too.

After David De Gea's poor start in English football, Sir Alex took him out of the limelight and used Lindegaard, only for De Gea to soon reclaim his place. In five years at Old Trafford, the Dane made 29 appearances in all competitions before leaving for West Brom.

9. Odion Ighalo

Signed originally on a six-month loan, Ighalo hit the ground running for Manchester United scoring five goals in his first five starts for the club. He was due to return to his parent club in China at the end of the season but when football was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the club extended his loan until January 2021.

Since the new season began though Ighalo has made just four appearances in all competitions and looks set for a quiet exit at the end of his spell.

8. Diego Forlan

Diego Forlan of Manchester United celebrates scoring the first goal of the match
Diego Forlan had a tough time at Old Trafford | Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

You could call him a cult hero, but Forlan's time at Old Trafford was tough.

After joining in January 2002, the Uruguayan went 26 games before scoring his first goal for the club and struggled to make a real impact at the club. He scored some memorable goals during his time, including the famous double against Liverpool at Anfield, but is ultimately remembered for his time in La Liga more.

7. Henrik Larsson

A lot of people won't even remember that Henrik Larsson was a Manchester United player once upon a time, but he was. For three months from January 2007, Larsson wore the famous red shirt - as his parent club Helsingborg enjoyed their off-season - and he was excellent.

Featuring in 13 games, he scored three goals and had manager Sir Alex Ferguson gushing over him insisting he "would have done anything to get him to stay".

He left the club before the season ended and despite playing only seven league games, he still has more Premier League medals than Steven Gerrard.

6. Juan Mata

After falling out with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, Juan Mata hopped on a helicopter and signed for David Moyes' Manchester United in January 2014 for £37m.

Since joining Mata has had spells of good and bad form, often being deployed on the right hand side of the attack. His best spell at the club came under Louis van Gaal, when he scored a double including this iconic scissor kick to turn Anfield to 'Juanfield'.

He's won the Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup at Old Trafford.

5. Paul Scholes

We're cheating here, but it can't go without a mention.

Paul Scholes retired in the summer of 2011 after a Champions League final defeat to Barcelona and began working as a coach with the youth teams. But after getting an itch to play the game once again, Scholesy asked Sir Alex if he could return to the playing staff instead.

A deal was done in secret and Scholes' name appeared on the team-sheet for a FA Cup tie against Manchester City without any official announcement prior. He ended up becoming the third most capped player in club history and went on to win another Premier League title before retiring again in 2013.

4. Louis Saha

Louis Saha, Ronaldo
Saha signed from Fulham in 2004 | Stu Forster/Getty Images

After shining in Fulham's 3-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson made the decision to sign Louis Saha in January 2004 for £12.4m.

He struggled with injuries during his time at the club, but was still a huge part of the team that lifted the Premier League title in 2006/07 after displacing Ruud van Nistelrooy as first choice striker. He scored 42 goals for the club and is very much a player held in high regard by fans, but there's still a bit of a 'what if?' around his career.

3. Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes has been incredible since signing in 2020 | Pool/Getty Images

The most recent transfer on the list, we all know about Bruno Fernandes' impact at Manchester United.

After finally signing for the club following a lengthy saga, Fernandes has made his £67m fee look like a bargain with his performances. The Portuguese magnifico seems to score or get an assist every time he plays and is essential to the way that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sets the team up.

He could eventually move up this list depending on what he achieves during his time at Old Trafford, but for now he's comfortably in the top three.

2. Patrice Evra

Patrice Evra
Evra is one of the best left-backs in Premier League history | Clive Mason/Getty Images

Arguably Manchester United's best ever left-back, Patrice Evra is a club legend.

He signed from French side Monaco in 2006 and spent eight years at the club, but it's easy to forget that he didn't exactly hit the ground running at Old Trafford. He was subbed off at half-time of his debut in the Manchester derby as he struggled with the physicality of the game.

He evolved and improved however, going on to win five Premier League titles, three League Cups and the Champions League before leaving on a free transfer after falling out with the club hierarchy.

1. Nemanja Vidic

Nemanja Vidic
Vidic is one of Manchester United's all-time great central defenders | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

It was tough to separate the top two, but former club captain Nemanja Vidic gets the nod.

The Serbian joined in the same window as Evra in 2006 and formed one of the greatest defensive partnerships of all time with Rio Ferdinand.

Vidic won five Premier League titles, three League Cups and the UEFA Champions League during his time at the club before falling out with David Moyes and leaving for Inter. He was appointed club captain following the retirement of Gary Neville and was named Premier League Player of the Year in 2009 and 2011.

The greatest January signing in Manchester United history.